New Degree Blends Engineering and Business
NADIA M. WHITEHEAD | May 1, 2015 | UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS
Undergraduate Amanda Sarieddine has decided to switch over to UTEP's latest degree: B.S. in Construction Engineering and Management. Photo by J.R. Hernandez / UTEP News Service
A new degree offered by The University of Texas at El Paso blends business management and civil engineering to create savvy graduates with cross-cutting administrative and construction skills.
Dubbed the Bachelor of Science in Construction Engineering and Management (BSCEM), the program was officially approved by The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) on Thursday, April 24.
"This degree is going to make graduating students more responsible and capable," said Amanda Sarieddine, an undergraduate who plans to switch into the new degree plan. "They'll be able to handle two jobs at once: construction management and civil engineering."
Sarieddine had originally planned to attain a bachelor's in civil engineering, but when she heard rumors about the upcoming opportunity, she couldn't resist the idea of becoming a construction engineer and manager.
"Graduates of these programs are in high demand right now," she said.
According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, employment of construction professionals is projected to increase by 16 percent during the 2006-16 decade, faster than the average for all occupations.
In addition, national universities with construction engineering programs report nearly 100 percent placement of graduates with high starting wages. Texas alone employed more construction personnel from April 2011 to April 2012 than any other state.
Cesar Carrasco, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Civil Engineering – where the degree will be housed – explained, "Construction projects today are very complex and require very sophisticated management skills that are not part of most bachelor's degree programs in civil engineering."
Students within UTEP's BSCEM program will be able to meet these demands by gaining more than engineering skills. By the time they graduate, BSCEM students will have taken courses in accounting, finance, business management, construction management, communication, cost estimating, safety and contracts.
At the same time, they each will have the expertise necessary to become certified Professional Engineers (PE), a valuable designation that signifies an individual can make competent engineering decisions.
This new cohort of graduating construction engineers and managers is expected to feed more than a national need.
Richard Schoephoerster, Ph.D., dean of the College of Engineering, said, "This program is designed to supply the local need and contribute to a diverse national workforce in the area."
Local construction firms often compete with nonlocal firms for large building projects. Today, project awards are based on the qualifications of the firm's management rather than sole price. Firms are routinely screened for management individuals with construction engineering and management degrees, rather than exclusive expertise in construction or business.
"This will benefit the El Paso community," said Sarriedine, who expects to graduate in May 2016 with a BSCEM degree. "The city is currently outsourcing for many of these positions; now they will be able to hire UTEP grads to meet the demand."
The aspiring engineer said she's ready to be one of the highly sought after graduates capable of working at places like Veliz Construction, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin.
"This is a great major," she said. "Construction engineering and management will allow us to take on diverse tasks; we'll be responsible for managing construction projects and for solving complex engineering problems."
Students who are interested in majoring in BSCEM can expect courses to begin being offered by the program in fall 2015.
The new degree brings the total number of bachelor's degrees offered by the University to 72.